An Encounter at the VA Hospital
By John Swainston, Army
Writing Type: Poem
By John L. Swainston
VA Medical Center--Kansas City, MO
Today I went to the VA Medical Center for a Consult.
In the waiting room half the chairs were covered.
I looked around for a place to stand and saw him.
His cover: 25th Infantry Division.
Tropic Lighting–the Electric Strawberry.
I walked over, asked if it was okay to talk.
I told him that I had served with the 114th MI Detachment.
A Reserve Round-out to the 25th when I lived in Hawaii.
A few minutes later I looked at his cover again:
Combat Infantryman Badge.
Bronze Star with V.
Two Purple Hearts.
He told me that he was in Vietnam 1968--69.
I did not ask, trying to be polite, but he told me:
“Yup, shot twice, once in the leg and then in the left shoulder,
above the heart, lucky that day.”
George was a: Negro, African American, Black American,
Black and some called him "N."
He was none of those.
A true American hero.